EXIT Festival continues to be a firm favourite for us Beats Travellers and the 2019 edition only solidified this. We were lucky enough to have a group of keen dancers with us on tour, coming from all parts of the world, from Denver to Amsterdam, Sydney, Sheffield and beyond. Joining us this year were competition winners from LivStudent who were also attending their first overseas festival, making it even more special.
The weekend began in storming fashion - literally!
As we headed up to the Fortress festival site in Novi Sad to catch The Cure, the heavens opened. There was no way even this could dampen the mood as we stomped up the famous hill, taking in everything around us. The buzz was undeniable as street vendors sold all sorts of alcoholic drinks and festival apparel whilst the sea of excited revellers prepared for what was to come.
I liken the feeling of walking up the hill towards the Petrovaradin Fortress to approaching your favourite football ground. The sight of the overbearing fortress sitting on the hill beside the Danube River is something that still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and watching the reaction of our Beats Travellers having the same experience was something i’ll never forget.
The opening day was branded as The ‘OPENS day’( which was in celebration of Novi Sad being the European Youth Capital for 2019) 'Omladinska prestonica Evrope'.
After picking up our wristbands and entering the grounds, we took a stroll around the festival site, constantly in awe at every turn. The attention to detail with each stage and the design of the site was impressive. As we neared the top of the site, we thankfully stumbled upon Ska band ‘The Selecter’ who were full of passion, life and energy throughout their set and kick-started our experience with positive vibes all-round.
With such a diverse line-up and stages to satisfy every music taste, the Beats Travellers all set out on their own missions. Some chose the silent disco, others cemented themselves at the AS FM stage or the main stage.
I chose to base myself around the dance music for the most part at two of my favourite festival stages in the world, No Sleep & Dance arena!
The highlight on the horizon of the opening night was undeniably the return of the king, Carl Cox.
Returning to the Dance Arena after years away and with a point to prove, this was something that none of the Beats Travellers felt they could miss - even with a set time of 5-8am(with a cheeky B2B beside Maceo Plex at the beginning).
After Maceo Plex’s impressive set, the man himself appeared with his famous ‘Oh yes, Oh yes - EXIT Festival’ and you could feel the crowd instantly lift by 30%!
In true Carl Cox fashion, he kept the thousands of dancers on their toes and knew exactly when to lift them with words of encouragement to get us all through until close.
The sun was shining and after some much needed rest, day 2 began with a tour of the fortress tunnels. We learnt about the history of Novi Sad as a city and a stronghold for many different rulers, before being taken through a couple of kilometres of the tunnels, ending up behind the Explosive stage, catapulting us back into the thick of the festival.
The nights agenda spread across the group consisted of Chase and Status Return II Jungle, The Chainsmokers, Peggy Gou and the banging No Sleep Novi Sad stage with Lag + Monosaccharide and Blawan taking us deep into closing time.
Bleary eyed and sleep deprived, we took on day 3 by indulging in a local wine and honey tasting session up in the mountains, learning about both the history and the techniques of both production processes.
As the night dawned, the Dance arena was pumping once again with the Diynamic duo, Adriatique on the money from the off, setting the scene for Tale of Us and Solomun to take things to a whole new level. There really isn’t anything quite like the EXIT dance arena in full flight once the sun has appeared and lit up the dancefloor. The natural progression was then to the moat dancefloor of the No Sleep Novi Sad stage to bring things through until close with DVS1’s raw techno sound.
With a flash, we landed on the final evening of EXIT 2019. It’s hard to pinpoint a favourite set, but the excitement levels building up to Skepta was unrivalled and he didn’t disappoint. You can decide for yourself with our own clip below. Energy was definitely the name of the game as the Serbian crowd reacted to the grime kings loaded performance - the only disappointing part was that it had to end!
To draw a close to another incredible year - if not, the best yet, Dax J rocked the dance arena into submission before YokoO, Sébastien Léger and Lee Burridge took centre stage at the Beats Travellers favourite - No Sleep Novi Sad stage, capping off an incredible four days in style.
What I can safely say is that we will be returning once again in 2020 and making it even more special is the fact that EXIT festival celebrates its 20th year anniversary - EXIT 2.0.
Živeo EXIT Festival!!